One of the impediments to organizational growth in healthcare is a scarcity of people ready to take on larger responsibilities. Employment rates in healthcare are growing much faster than in other sectors. According to the Center for Health Workforce Studies, healthcare job growth has increased by 20 percent from 2004 to 2014 and is expected to grow another 22 percent by 2024. In a very low unemployment market, demand far exceeds supply. Yet, when executives complain about the lack of good candidates, I remind them that there is only one way to prepare workers for advancement: help them develop their skills and proficiencies. Rather than simply adding new employees, grow the ones you have!
Every team within a business should be seen as a Petri dish for growing talent, with the healthcare manager as the scientist-in-charge.
Regardless of your feelings about Jack Welch’s management style, one thing is clear—he made GE a talent generator. He was known for placing the burden of responsibility for developing people directly on the shoulders of their manager.
It was not HR, not administration, but management! In fact, part of GE managers’ performance rating was determined by the rate and number of potential successors that they were developing.
Welch knew that the business could optimize its market potential only when managers took up the mantle of growing their employees. The same is true in healthcare.
Selective and strategic delegation is a wonderful tool for accelerating the growth of a healthcare workforce as well as offsetting, to some extent, the demand for new resources. By giving stretch assignments—pushing employees out of their comfort zone—putting subordinates on critical business initiatives, and encouraging them to broaden their thinking and take risks, a healthcare manager can test and expand their subordinates’ capabilities.
Research has consistently determined that on-the-job opportunities are the most instrumental means of developing leaders. Stretch assignments, accompanied by mentoring and coaching, can greatly accelerate an individual’s advancement. The determination for how big of a stretch assignment an individual can handle rests on the shoulders of the individual, not the manager.
This acceleration will be well beyond what would normally happen by delegating randomly or on the obvious basis of availability. What better way to find your organization’s next stars than to develop them?
The individual and manager must have an initial discussion to clarify that the individual needs to speak up when his or her “plate is full.” Managers should not, and cannot, determine when one of their subordinates has everything they can handle at a given time. Identifying capacity, assertiveness, and the ability to manage multiple projects concurrently are potential points of growth for the subordinate.
THE TAKEAWAY: The future leaders of your organization (and healthcare in general) are already working for you. It is your responsibility to give them tasks today that will prepare them to meet the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.
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